Well, this is the day I knew was coming. I’m tired and irritated. I don’t feel like dealing anyone or anything anytime soon. Odd as it sounds, ten days into the visit, I’m entirely sure this is due to jet lag. I didn’t really have any issues with jet lag the first seven days because I didn’t even try to assimilate to the time zone. I was going to bed around 7am and getting up whenever I wanted to. So I wasn’t having jet lag problems the same way a student hasn’t had any problems with their homework yet – but only because they haven’t started working on it. But eventually I resolved to actually enjoy more than four hours of daylight during my time in Paris, and the battle was on.
One thing about jet lag : you can’t avoid it. There are actually three things you can’t avoid in life – death, taxes, and jet lag. Like a slow, plodding, determined, and indestructible zombie, it will eventually catch you no matter what you do. As someone who has crossed 562 time zones in the past few years [fun fact, I actually counted], I feel qualified to offer the assessment that any person who says they don’t feel the effects of it is completely full of shit. They are cosmically related to the asshole who tells you how low the lease payment is on their car without mentioning it’s a 108-month lease with $8,999 down.
I also find bemused joy in the articles written by travel experts along the lines of “10 Tips to Avoid Jet Lag”, which give you a series of pointers that do nothing but shift the inconvenience and discomfort of the imminent jet lag to your time at home. Start going to bed an hour earlier every day for a week? Well thank you, Captain Science, for suggesting the obvious, but I actually don’t have precision control over the second at which I fall asleep, and I actually have shit to do that week. Oh, and how is this any better than just dealing with the jetlag by default as it happens?
Anyway, moving on. I am cranky, and there’s a second reason in addition to the insidious bastard jetlag – it’s harder to define and impossible to quantify, but Paris forces you to play a certain game every day. It will present you with a series of small challenges. If you conquer the challenges, you reap the rewards in the form of beauty and deliciousness and everything else it has to offer. Most days, this is more than acceptable to the average visitor, as the splendor of the latter makes the former almost unnoticeable. But stick around long enough… and there will be day where you take one step out of your apartment, get bumped by someone on a bike, knocking your phone out of your hand, and you will want to scream “Ok, seriously, I do NOT want to deal with this shit today!”
But you don’t have a choice – you are going to get bumped, jostled, ignored, cut in front of, sneered at, talked down to, and generally irritated. It never stops. The first few days, you actually even might enjoy it and coo to your friends that you’re “taking in the Paris charm.” A couple days later, it’s not cute but the riches of the city still offset it. Add another week, and you’ll start muttering expletives under your breath and looking for an excuse to push someone.
So today, much like several moments when I lived here, I am on the Delta website looking at the possibility of moving my flights up a bit. Maybe shave a week off…maybe catch tomorrow’s plane…maybe give it one more week and wrap up.
But then, I’ll have a great dinner, and I’ll meet up with some friends who offer some great conversation and an interesting perspective, and I’ll take a quiet walk along the Seine and I’ll decide to stick around a little bit longer. We’ve had this fight before, Paris and I. Sometimes I love her, sometimes I hate her.
That being said, I think I’m going to go take a nap.